Latest News

Read all the latest news from Brendan O'Connor MP


October 21, 2015

Labor welcomes the long overdue appointment of independent investigator the Hon Peter Heerey AM QC to review the conduct of Vice President of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) Michael Lawler.

Labor has been calling for the Government to take action in relation to Mr Lawler since June.  

On Four Corners last night Mr Lawler admitted that he worked on his partner Kathy Jackson's defence while being on extended sick leave and also made admissions that he may have been a beneficiary of stolen union money.

While the inquiry’s terms of reference includes looking into complaints of misconduct by Mr Lawler, they appear to be silent on matters relating to a recent finding by Justice Tracey that Ms Jackson misappropriated $1.4 million from members of the Health Services Union.

Labor is concerned that the inquiry’s terms of reference will not allow the investigation of any benefit Mr Lawler allegedly received and the failure to do so will have an adverse impact on the reputation of the FWC.

We demand an immediate assurance from the Government that the inquiry will include these matters.

The FWC has been an essential part of our nation for more than a century and is very important for the living standards of hardworking Australians and we don’t want its reputation to be traduced by the conduct of its officers.

Given the public interest in these matters and the potential loss of public confidence in the FWC, Labor urges the Minister for Employment to confirm that the inquiry will include consideration of whether Mr Lawler has benefited from money stolen from HSU, indicate when the investigation will be concluded, and ensure the investigation proceeds expeditiously given the significant amount of time that has already elapsed since complaints were raised.